Your Big MBA Interview: How Should You Prepare?

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It’s MBA interview season, and if you’re in the midst of it (and one of the lucky few to actually get a Round 1 or Round 2 interview date from your business school of choice), you’re probably wondering how to best prepare, and what you can do to truly ace the process.

Rule #1:  First understand the process.  Are you on campus or out campus (as in out-of-state, or out-of-country in terms of your school?).  Each scenario has it’s own perks and downfall, so just understand the difference.

On campus, the people who will be interviewing you, are the ones who will actually make the decisions.  This, in my professional view, is the (and your) best case scenario, because there’s no middle ground or intermediary person you have to first wade through in order to get to the actual decision maker(s).  In other words, it’s like meeting with the CEO or the President of a company  = the one who has the actual power to hire you.

Given this, if at all possible, I always recommend going to campus for your actual interview.

If it simply cannot be done however, because you’re in a different state, or a different country than your business school of choice, then you will for all practical purposes, have what the business schools and MBA programs term an “alumni interviewer.”  This alum has usually been briefed on what to look for in an MBA applicant or candidate, briefed on what the school is particularly looking for in that specific Round or year, and the alumni interviewer then meets with you in your country or state of choice and after the meeting, writes a brief report, summarizing their thoughts and opinions about you and the meeting.

This “interview report” then gets added to your file, and sent off to the school’s admissions committee, where the ones who do make the decisions will read the report alongside the other elements in your MBA application (essays, resume, letters of rec, etc).  It becomes another piece of the business school pie, so to speak, versus meeting them in person, where they can actually put a name with a face.  That’s the difference!

The schools do understand though that sometimes it is just impossible, due to finances, work, or family responsibilities to travel to the school. The truth is, the business school MBA (and EMBA for that matter) admissions committee uses the same procedure to evaluate your performance, regardless if you’re on campus for your interview or off.

The first step in preparing for your interview however is to review your own essays. Some MBA programs interview “blind” meaning your interviewer has not yet read your application, and will learn everything about you on the spot, while other top business schools, like Harvard Business School, for example, will have their interviewers read through your application before meeting you, so their questions will be more tailored to your specific skillset and experience.

The second best recommendation for  interview prep is to review some typical questions. Googling this will produce some specific results, and keep in mind that many past MBA applicants post their experiences online in forums such as GMAT Club Forum and Beat the GMAT, as well as my own Harvard admissions blog at:

Once you understand how the interview process works, what types of questions they most often ask, how to prepare for some of the harder or more challenging MBA questions, and what points you know you most want to share, I’m sure you’ll put your best foot forward and make a strong impression in terms of your MBA candidacy.

Want more specialized help?  Check out my blog at, or contact me through my website for a free consultation and get into the business school of your dreams!

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